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How to tell someone their favourite book sucks …

September 10, 2014

What better way to deepen your relationship with someone than to read their favourite book? Favourite books can be like a personal religious text; they can help you understand someone’s motivations, prejudices and worldviews.  But what if their favourite book, well, sucks.

Here’s some tips:

1 – Do not read aloud passages of the book that you find to be comically overwrought.  You may think you are showing that you’re engaging with the book. All you are doing is showing that you are an insufferable snob.

2 – If the whole point of the book is to show some Big Important Lesson, do not say that you find the characters self-centred and annoying. You are missing the point. You are merely confirming your status as an insufferable snob.

3 – Question your motivation. Are you reading their favourite book to genuinely draw closer to them? Or are you reading it because you hope this offers you another chance to show your self-declared cultural superiority? If it is the latter, you don’t deserve books. Or to be in a relationship.

4 – Realise that a favourite book is like an open wound. It is something to be protected. If someone, especially a loved one, comes near it, we flinch as if it is has been exposed to a chill wind. We tell them to be careful and be gentle. Any connection with the book, no matter how slight, can cause an intense reaction.

5 – Finish the book. The only thing worse than having an opinion on a favourite book is offering only pointed indifference. By abandoning the book you are effectively saying you don’t care enough about the person to find out what has made their soul leap.

6 – Don’t tell them it sucks. Because it doesn’t. If your loved one loves it, then it is special. Your highfalutin’, snobby reflexes be damned. This is not an exercise in relativism – every opinion is not equally valid – but rather its realising that everything isn’t always about you. Their favourite book might not be yours, but at least you’re with someone who has been moved by a book. Well done, that means you’re with someone rather special. If you take nothing else from this exercise, delight in that.

Read the whole article by Edd McCracken on Book Riot here

end to book sucks

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